Mexico Vs. Colombia | A Gringo’s Go-To Guide
Mexico Vs. Colombia.
Two of the absolute best Spanish speaking countries for traveling gringos to check out.
The allure of adventure, low cost of living, unique cultures, and las mujeres bonitas draws foreigners from all walks of life to these fascinating countries.
But which is best for you? What Latin American country is your best bet for digital nomads looking to have a damn good time while getting some work done?
Well, that depends on a variety of factors, including how degenerate of an individual you are and how much time you have to explore. Luckily, I'm going to cover it all for y'all today. After spending damn near a full year in Colombia and nearly six months in Mexico over the course of multiple trips, I've got a little insight to share with you.
Te lo juro.
Oh, and I've enjoyed countless sunsets, saw some stunning sights, and met tons of cool locals. I've even dabbled with a little dating in both countries. Suffice to say, I know more than enough to break it down for my fellow vagabonds.
Today, we'll take a look at the whole enchilada when comparing Mexico vs. Colombia. Errr, the whole bandeja paisa. We'll compare and contrast these two locales on factors like:
Table of Contents
Mexico Vs. Colombia | A Gringo's Go-To Guide
Enough with my gringo fluff, it's time to dive into the details.
Below you'll find everything you need to know when comparing Mexico Vs. Colombia…
Population / Country Size
Colombia and Mexico are the two largest Spanish speaking countries in the world.
They're also two of the biggest countries by population in the region. Mexico has the second largest population in Latin America – behind Brazil. Colombia comes in third.
Overall, Mexico has nearly 130 million people, while Colombia comes in at nearly 50 million residents (Source).
Both countries are massive with enough people to ensure you'll never, ever get bored. Larger cities have limitless dining and entertainment options, and there's plenty of fine-looking local ladies in both countries seeking to date foreign guys.
In the same vein, both countries are quite crowded. If you're looking to escape somewhere tranquil for a bit of peace and quiet, then Bogota and CDMX won't be your cup of tea. You can, however, find some pretty sweet and scarcely populated little towns in both nations if you know where to look.
With such large populations, you have more than enough options when looking for places to stay in Mexico or Colombia.
Both countries boost dozens of cities that are suitable for the digital nomad lifestyle and having a damn good time. And by that, I mean you can expect a decent internet connection in your Airbnb apartment and there's at least one coworking space in the city.
For example, one could comfortably spend a month or two in these cities in Colombia:
- Santa Marta
That's a fairly extensive list. You won't get bored exploring Colombia, especially if you're working online too. Mexico is the same way. Such a vast country filled with so many people, it's damn near impossible to check it all out.
Here's just a small list of cities in Mexico that could be worth a stay of a month or more:
- Mexico City
- Playa del Carmen
- Puerto Vallarta
…And that's just scratching the surface. The list could go on and on. Seriously, there's probably 20+ cities and beach towns in Mexico that I wouldn't mind spending a month or two in. Maybe more. The country is that big.
Cost of Living
If you're coming from the western world, then let me make one thing clear: both Mexico and Colombia will be pretty cheap. Life is just cheaper south of the border.
Ya tu sabes.
That's just the way things are. As both countries have emerging economies, many things are far cheaper than back home.
Unless you're really balling out, you can live for cheap in both Mexico and Colombia. By cheap, I mean around $2,000 USD per month.
The cost of living in Mexico is fantastic right now. The only cities that come close to being expensive in are:
- Mexico City: One of the biggest cities in the Americas. The fancy neighborhoods are world-class, but you'll pay for all those upmarket amenities.
- The Mayan Rivera: Cancun and Tulum aren't that cheap anymore. Expect to pay about the same you would back home for many things, especially while on vacation.
In Colombia, things can get even cheaper, surprisingly. However, there are still a few cities in Colombia where costs can add up quick:
- Bogota: The capital of Colombia is still cheap, but expect to spend $2,500-3,000 USD a month here to live in a safe area and enjoy the nightlife.
- Cartagena: A beach city built on tourism, the whole town is focused on ripping off gringos. Nothing is as cheap as it should be in Cartagena.
Outside of these four cities, every place I've been to in Colombia and Mexico are insanely cheap. Like luxury living in a high-rise apartment in the city center for pennies on the dollar kind of cheap.
But comparing costs…
Mexico vs. Colombia?
It's too close to call, as you can live insanely cheap in either country. And it depends on what you're into as well. Some things will be cheaper in Colombia while other things will be cheaper in Mexico.
This is a bit of a tough one, as you can find educated English speakers in both countries.
However, I found Mexico had more people who speak English for a few reasons. First, Mexico is far closer to the United States and American influence spills over the border. The country also receives more foreign tourists than just about anywhere else in Latin America. As such, learning English is a valuable skill in Mexico.
In Colombia, learning English can pay dividends – especially for those working for an international company or trying to get a job in tourism. But for most Colombians, learning English isn't a huge deal.
So you can get by without speaking decent Spanish in Mexico just a little easier than in Colombia.
That being said…
I wouldn't head anywhere outside the tourist areas of the Mayan Rivera or Mexico City without speaking at least a little bit of Spanish. Just like I wouldn't recommend heading to Medellin or Bogota without learning a few phrases in the love language.
Because you'll have such a better experience if you speak a little Spanish in both Mexico and Colombia. By learning a little of the language, you'll be able to interact with locals and develop better relationships (incluso con las mujeres ;))
Living in Colombia and Mexico will be a far better experience when you know a little of the language. Luckily, it's easier than ever before to learn Spanish before you hit the road.
To begin learning Spanish, just click here.
Oh, and if I wasn't clear enough: Mexico wins here. You can get by without much Spanish in Mexico. In Colombia, that'll be a little tougher. Still doable, but tougher for sure.
Ease of Travel
When I'm talking about ease of travel, I mean getting to the country and traveling around.
If you're coming from the western world, it's insanely easy to get to Mexico City. Flying into CDMX is more than easy. In fact, you'll find direct flights from dozens of cities throughout the United States. And the flights are cheap!
Hell, I can get from Kansas City to CDMX in 5 hours with just a single layover. That's just not possible when going to Colombia. Generally, it's a lot harder to get to Colombia from the United States, Canada, or Europe — it's pricier and it takes more time and more layovers.
A handful of cities have direct flights to Medellin, Bogota, or Cartagena. But it's not like flying to CDMX or Cancun. It's not that easy.
Now, once you're actually in the country…it's simple to get from city to city in both Mexico and Colombia. Both countries have low-cost airlines that do a decent job for cheap.
In Colombia, you have airlines like:
- Viva Colombia
Both these airlines whisk you around the country without breaking the bank.
In Mexico, you have airlines like:
- Viva Aerobus
You can fly around Mexico with these carriers for $100-200 USD round-trip, pretty much everywhere. Buses are also readily available in both Mexico and Colombia. Although I don't recommend bus travel in either country.
In Mexico, there's a bit too much narco activity for my liking once you get outside the main cities and tourist zones. That means overland bus travel is a bit sketchy at times.
In Colombia, the terrain is too high once you get away from the coast. I always get a stomach ache when busing around the coffee region, Medellin, and Cali. Plus, those windy Andean roads can get a little treacherous, so it's not uncommon to hear about a bus that's ended up in the bottom of a ravine.
The winner here?
Well, it's gotta be Mexico — it's so much easier to fly internationally to Mexico than it is to Colombia.
This one is tough to call.
I'd say Mexico has better overall infrastructure. But then half the tourist areas in Mexico have banned modern conveniences like Uber in an asinine attempt to rip off tourists. They're kind of shooting themselves in the foot there.
I don't use public transport much, so that's kind of a moot point for me.
The Internet is faster and more reliable in Mexico. Having said that, Colombia is catching up fast. Medellin is rapidly evolving into a digital nomad hotspot to rival Canguu and Chang Mai, largely because lightning-fast speeds are becoming commonplace around the city.
The apartments tend to be newer and made just a little bit better in Mexico. But again, Colombia's top-tier cities do have some pretty fancy digs to rent off Airbnb, albeit at a slightly higher rate.
While Colombia isn't far behind and is catching up quickly, I'd say Mexico is still ahead in the infrastructure stakes.
Things to Do
This one feels a little silly to even talk about as there are a plethora of things to do in both countries. There's a reason tourists are flocking to both Mexico and Colombia these days…You should never be bored in either place!
In Colombia, many have found love for Medellin as the city is a digital nomad hotspot. But there's so much more to do in Colombia than explore Medellin.
I'm talking about checking out other cool places like:
- Parque Tayrona
- Castillo San Felipe
- Valle de Cocora
- Punta Gallinas
- Santa Marta
- San Adres
On top of that, the mountainous terrain of Colombia is absolutely spectacular for hiking and the views are world-class.
But don't discount Mexico. The country is filled with world-famous tourist attractions for good reason. You'll find enticing activities and tourism in Mexico, like:
- Chichen Itza
- Iztaccihuatl Volcano
- Copper Canyon
- playa del Carmen
- Puerto Vallarta
- San Miguel de Allende
When you take out the culinary experiences and amazing beaches that Mexico has to offer, there's more to do in Colombia. Better hiking, unique landscapes, Spanish colonial cities. And Colombian beaches aren't half bad either, with scores of tropical white sandy beaches stretching along its sweltering Carribean coast.
Mexico does have the Aztec and Mayan Ruins, which are amazing. But that's about it after the beaches and food.
This section will be short and sweet. As someone who absolutely adores la playa, this category is a no-brainer.
Mexico has better beaches.
Te lo juro.
Colombia has Parque Tayrona, Cartagena, and Santa Marta. The beaches are amazing in Parque Tayrona and just okay in these other places. Hell, you can even throw San Andres in the mix too.
But these spots don't come close to competing with the beaches in Mexico. Mexico has two competing coastlines jampacked with beach cities, hippy surfer towns, and all things coastal living.
- Playa del Carmen
- Puerto Vallarta
- Puerto Escondido
- Cabo San Lucas
And that's just the tip of the iceberg, too. If beach life is a priority, Mexico is the place to go. The Caribbean Coast of Colombia simply can't compete and the Pacific Coast is way too underdeveloped.
And if you're into surfing, you'll find scores of epic spots to hang ten in Mexico, most of which host a vibrant gringo-friendly scene with beach bums from all over the globe.
I'm no stranger to a little fun once the sun goes down, especially in Latin America. Shit, I've written about my partying exploits in Latin America before at great length. So I'll try to break this one down to the best of my abilities.
The nightlife in Mexico is amazing. It's no slouch. You can have a great time partying in many a Mexican locale. The people are friendly, the booze is generally cheap (especially the mezcal), and the women are cute.
But the party scene here just can't compete with Colombia.
The nightlife in Bogota is second to none–best in the world in my humble opinion. It's wild, crazy, and even a wee bit dangerous. Totalmente loco. If you really want to party, then Bogota is damn near impossible to beat.
I'll admit: this one was close. Almost too close for comfort…but I'd take partying in Colombia over la rumba in Mexico any day of the week.
There's no doubt some of you out there will disagree.
And now, without further ado, here's what all you horn dogs out there have been waiting for:
Dating in Latin America.
Which country is best for those looking for a little amor on the road? Now, I'm a straight male. So I won't be able to help you here ladies. But for the fellas, I'll do my best to break it down.
Mexican girls are attractive. They tend to be more relationship-oriented than other Latinas. They're generally easy to get along with as culturally, Mexico has adopted many of the traits of the West. Mexicanas also aren't nearly as interested in a man's financial situation as many Colombianas.
Nevertheless…Colombia wins hands down.
Any man who's spent time in both countries will whole-heartedly agree. It's not even a competition. Colombian women are the most beautiful on earth. If dating hot girls is your main motivation for travel, then make a beeline to Colombia. It's a paradise for single guys like you.
And considering the quality of the women there, it's not as hard as you may think. Las Colombianas will treat you extremely well if you've got your shit together.
These are both Latin cultures. People are warm and friendly. There's energy in the air when you walk through the streets. A passion.
It's hard to compare Mexico vs. Colombia when talking about friendliness. But I'll do my damn best to try.
On the surface, I find Colombians to be more open and friendly about meeting foreigners. The people are easy going and want you to enjoy their country.
But I never developed any authentic, long-lasting friendships while there once you throw dating and mating away from the table.
In Mexico, the people are slightly less friendly from the get-go but much easier to get along with and develop friendships once you get to know them. Again, this is because Mexico is a little closer to the United States and the cultures are somewhat similar.
Personally, I just vibe better with people from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil…at least when compared to the relationships I've made in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.
Of course, your mileage may vary. I'm sure not everyone will agree.
Not even a question here…
Colombia has decent food. You're not going to starve in the country as the portions are always abundant. But aside from bandeja paisa, my taste buds weren't too inspired when eating out in Colombia.
In Mexico, however, the cuisine is truly world-class. Mexico food fookin' rocks; I can't get enough of it. From the traditional stuff like tacos al pastor to the seafood found on the Pacific Coast, it's all just so damn good…
Mexico is a foodies' wet dream.
Safety and Danger
Even though I've had my fair share of hair-raising incidents while traveling around Latin America, I'm of the opinion that the region tends to get a bad rap.
Colombia is dangerous. You have to take extra precautions when using electronics in public and taking money out of the ATM. There are lots of thieves in Colombia. Lots of petty theft.
Murders? Not nearly as many as you'd think, especially against tourists. Unless you resist a robbery in Colombia or don't pay for certain sketchy services, you shouldn't get murdered as a tourist. And stay away from hookers and drugs, young bucks.
But in the nice areas of major cities and the tourist areas, Colombia isn't that much different from places back home. I can walk around Zona T in Bogota without a care in the world during the day. The same thing goes while on the beaches of Bocagrande in Cartagena. It's just not that dangerous in Colombia any more. The security situation in the country is getting better with every passing year.
On the other hand, Mexico has been getting worse. The murder rate in Mexico has skyrocketed in recent years. Cartel violence is through the roof. Once Chapo got captured, a power struggle took off between cartels. And it's been a blood bath ever since.
Still, Mexico is a massive country.
Much of the narco-violence is confined to certain areas. And most of the time, the cartels want nothing to do with tourists. Hell, the cartels own half the hotels in Mazatlan. They want more tourists coming. Not fewer. So I'm of the opinion that Mexico isn't that dangerous either, assuming you're not mixed up in the drug trade in some way.
Here's how I'll break it down. You're more likely to get robbed in Colombia, but worse shit happens more often in Mexico.
Mexico vs. Colombia | The Verdict?
Alright, that went on a little longer than I'd planned. My bad. I'm a wordy f*cker from time to time. Así es la vida.
So where did we end up?
Well, let's take a look at the results of this Mexico vs. Colombia comparison…
- Population: Tie
- Cities: Mexico
- Cost of Living: Tie
- Language Barrier: Mexico
- Ease of Travel: Mexico
- Infrastructure: Mexico
- Things to Do: Colombia
- Beach Life: Mexico
- Nightlife: Colombia
- Dating: Colombia
- Friendliness: Mexico
- Food: Mexico
- Safety and Danger: Tie
Mexico won seven categories. Colombia won three categories. There were three categories that tied. Overall, about what I was expecting.
Therefore, the winner is Mexico!
Mexico is the superior destination for the vast majority of tourists and digital nomads. The country simply has a hell of a lot to offer the average punter. There's a damn good reason more gringos go to Mexico than anywhere else in Latin America.
That being said…
There's still good reason to go to Colombia. Many of them. If nightlife, off-the-beaten-path adventure, and dating are your primary motivation for traveling…Colombia is tough to top.
Que te vaya bien,